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Our family law solicitors have years of experience in divorce and separation proceedings along with parental responsibility agreements. Sadly, we deal with cases quite often where one parent might withhold a child’s passport or try to take their children abroad without consent.

Here we answer some of your questions:

Who owns a child’s passport?

A child’s passport is generally kept by the parent with the primary parental responsibility although there is no particular rule in this regard. It may be that whoever applied and paid for it keeps it simply by default. The parent with parental responsibility for the child also applies for the passport but both parent’s details are needed when applying.

If you do not have parental responsibility, you need the consent and cooperation of the child’s primary parent to obtain a passport for your child.

Can a parent withhold a child’s passport?

If a parent takes a child out of the UK without consent or court permission, it’s considered a criminal offence. The parent with parental responsibility can refuse to hand over the child’s passport even though we understand that can be a very unpleasant situation.

If you don’t have a Child Arrangement Order and without their permission, you can’t book a holiday out of the UK and therefore will not be able to obtain your child’s passport. With a Child Arrangement Order, either parent can take a child abroad for up to 28 days without the permission of the other.

When a solution can’t be found peacefully between both parents, a parent can make an application to the Court for permission to attain the child’s passport and take the child on holiday abroad.

In the case that holiday has already been booked and your ex-partner is refusing to hand the passport last minute then you would have to make an urgent application for the release of the passport. This is called a ‘Specific Issue Order’ Contact us today to discuss your next steps.

What if one parent wants to relocate abroad with the child?

As always, every case is unique, and we would be happy to offer you legal advice. In general, if one parent wants to relocate with their child, permission from the other parent must be obtained or a Court order might be needed, this is also known as asking the court for ‘Leave to Remove’.

Whatever the relationship between the two parents, legal representation is always advised to ensure a contact plan and future upbringing plans for the child.

But, in some cases, the parent might want to oppose the relocation. When opposing the relocation application, the court will want to hear evidence of all aspects of the child’s life, educational plans, family support, the impact of relocating and more.

If a child is taken abroad to live without consent, then depending on the country of relocation there are certain International Laws that can assist with immediate return. It is vital that applications are made swiftly.

If you think your ex-partner is taking your children to live abroad without your consent, please contact us straight away to get legal advice based on your circumstances. Our family law team are here to help you with all aspects of parental responsibility.